Saturday, May 14, 2011

Careful scrutiny of employment stats for recent law grads should give pause to prospective students

We'd previously told you about an article written by CU law professor Paul Campos who examined the employed nine-months-after-graduation ("NMAG") figure for 2010 reported by the NALP for one t-50 law school and concluded that due to self-reporting errors by students, it may not provide an accurate picture about the true state of legal hiring. Prospective students frequently rely on this figure to decide whether to go to law school and which school to attend (it's also why USNWR includes the NMAG figure in its ranking formula).

The blog Belly of the Beast takes a look at the national NMAG figure for the class of 2009 and draws a similar conclusion about the need for anyone thinking about law school to proceed with caution. While there are legal jobs to be had, law school applicants have to carefully consider the tough road ahead.

– To his credit, NALP’s [Executive Director James] Leipold went behind the 88% employment rate for the class of 2009. The resulting caveats are significant.

First, the percentage employed are graduates “for whom employment status was known.” Who’s excluded? Who knows?

Second, nearly 25 percent of all reported jobs were temporary; more than 10 percent were part-time.

Third, only 70 percent “held jobs for which a J.D. was required.” Unfortunately, law schools don’t offer tuition refunds (or relief from student loans) for education that was unnecessary for their graduates’ actual employment opportunities. That doesn’t surprise me. (See “Law School Deception.”)

Finally, more than 20 percent of employed graduates from the class of 2009 “were still looking for work.” Beneath the veneer of superficially good news — having a job — career dissatisfaction continues to eat away at too many of the profession’s best and brightest in yet another generation.

That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t go to law school. It means that they should think carefully about it first, starting with this question: why do I want to be a lawyer and will the reality of the job match my expectations?

You can read the rest here.


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